09 May 10th Anniversary of the School Climate Bill of Rights
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) School Climate Bill of Rights is celebrating its 10th anniversary. This landmark policy was created to ensure that all students in the district have access to high-quality education and are treated with dignity and respect.
By MIGUEL DOMINGUEZ | Director of Education & Youth Policy
The School Climate Bill of Rights (SCBR) was co-created by the Brothers, Sons, Selves (BSS) Coalition–a group of organizations that work with and prioritize the voices and power of boys and men of color–and CADRE, an organization that collaborates with parent leaders. The Board voted 5-7, resulting in a significant shift in how students experience discipline in LAUSD, moving away from a zero-tolerance approach. The core policy change was a ban on suspensions for the discriminatory catch-all known as “willful defiance,” which accounted for a majority of suspensions that disproportionately targeted boys and men of color. Instead, suspensions and expulsions became a last resort, and alternatives to suspensions were implemented, utilizing school-wide positive behavior and intervention support, including access to Restorative Justice counselors.
In 2011, before the adoption of the School Climate Bill of Rights, LAUSD suspended 18,888 students annually. However, over a two-year period, LAUSD saw a 78% drop in suspensions and a 13% increase in graduation rates. Additionally, the SCBR provided students, parents, and community members access to school climate data to create more transparency and hold the district accountable. Lastly, the policy limited the role of school police, deferring that role to school administrators instead.
Today, the norm is to provide students with access to counselors, social workers, restorative justice counselors, and overall access to health and mental health services, with wellness centers available at many schools throughout the district. None of this would be possible without this monumental effort led by students and parents, a testament to the power of community and an example of what’s possible when elected officials and decision-makers work with the community in an authentic and genuine way.
LAUSD has an opportunity to lead the state by endorsing SB274, which, if passed, would ensure that students in CA cannot be suspended or expelled for “disruption or willful defiance” at all grade levels.
“For far too long, young people of color have been seen as disposable and have been funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline. While we still have a long way to go toward achieving real justice for our communities, student and parent-led policies like the School Climate Bill of Rights have propelled our systems toward real progress and improved the day-to-day experiences for our young people in school,” said Miguel Dominguez, Director of Education and Youth Policy for Community Coalition.